Insights from industry

Additive Manufacturing - Technology Metals for Industrial 3D Printing

H.C. Starck, suppliers of specialist metals, provide a range of technology metals to be used specifically in additive manufacturing (3D printing). Additive manufacturing allows highly complex and geometrical parts to be produced as a whole - meaning less parts are required to create device components and the assembly time is reduced. This technology is becoming popular across the board - from the medical industry to aerospace.  

AZoM spoke to Mike Stawovy, senior R&D Manager in H.C. Starck’s fabricated products division, about H.C. Starcks additive manufacturing services and how he expects 3D printing to take over the manufacturing industry.

What different manufacturing services does H.C. Starck provide?

The H.C. Starck Group, headquartered in Munich, Germany, is a leading global supplier of technology metals, high-performance ceramics and thermal spray powders with decades of metallurgical and processing experience.

H.C. Starck produces high-alloyed AMPERSINT® metal powders of all major standard compositions, such as nickel- (Ni), cobalt- (Co) and iron- (Fe) based alloys, refractory metals and their alloys (W, Mo, Ta, Nb), as well as customized solutions with tailored chemistries and particle size distributions. Available from small to large scale batch sizes.

The perfectly spherical powder shape, excellent flow characteristics, low oxygen content and high reproducibility of H.C. Starck Surface Technology and Ceramic Powders AMPERSINT® powders ensure the repeatability, consistency and reliability of the Additive Manufacturing processes to achieve the optimum performance of Additive Manufacturing parts.

The Fabricated Products Division (FPR) of H.C. Starck, based in the U.S. with 6 manufacturing facilities on three continents, now offers spheroidized refractory metal powders and their alloys using state-of-the-art processing capabilities. These powders are designed from our core metals: molybdenum, niobium, tantalum and tungsten, in both pure and alloyed forms, with tailored chemistries and particle size distributions.

In addition, FPR develops innovative finished parts from refractory metals produced also using additive manufacturing processes.

H.C. Starck provides a range of different technology metals designed for use in additive manufacturing.

What motivated H.C. Starck to enter into the additive manufacturing market?

We knew Additive Manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, was going to be the technology of the future for manufacturing high-value components with complex geometric structures.

3D printing allows us the freedom to design and create objects in three-dimensions, leading to entirely new ways of manufacturing custom-made components and structural elements that are impossible to produce with conventional technologies.

With additive manufacturing, a product can be designed and a sample created in a fraction of the time compared to traditional manufacturing.

A single-piece component made from molybdenum or tungsten can be made without all the previously required manufacturing steps. So, production process steps such as the pressing and sintering of powders, thermo-mechanical processing, machining and assembly of components are eliminated, making it easier and faster to seamlessly deliver products to customers using this advanced additive manufacturing technology.

What impact do you think the introduction of technology metals into the additive manufacturing world is going to have?

The impact is tremendous.

Suppliers, as an example, have demonstrated the ability to produce large titanium aerospace parts using additive manufacturing versus the traditional forging method. This demonstrates just how versatile this technology is and what types of complex components can be made.

Besides aerospace, there are many high-tech markets taking advantage of the technology including automotive, medical, chemical processing and energy, to name a few.

Additive manufacturing can be used to create complex, continuuous geometrical parts such as those found in aeroplane turbines. Shutterstock | Nine_Tomorrows

Are there any new applications that particularly stand out to you?

Definitely, additive manufacturing has demonstrated the ability to eliminate assembly steps and make single-piece components that were previously produced from hundreds of individual parts.

For example, H.C. Starck’s FPR has taken advantage of this potential to expand its product portfolio in lead-free collimators and anti-scatter grids for medical CT scanners, SPECT and gamma cameras.

What are the main industries H.C. Starck is targeting for their additive manufacturing services?

We are targeting technically advanced applications in industries like medical and industrial imaging, nuclear and thermo-nuclear energy, and various aerospace and defense related applications that will be the first to benefit from H.C. Starck’s FPR additive manufacturing technology.

We are working with our current customers and exploring relationships with new customers to formulate powders and design complex parts to greatly improve performance, significantly reduce production and lead times by eliminating the need for multi-component assemblies.

Are there many differences between the varied materials you offer through this service, especially any which you think might have more popular or far-reaching applications? Are there any which are more challenging to work with and will remain more specialised?

We feel our molybdenum and tungsten spherical powders, which are optimized for additive manufacturing and engineered for enhanced product performance, will be popular with additive manufacturing techniques such as binder jet, directed energy deposition and powder bed fusion.

The enhanced spherical shape of our H.C. Starck FPR powders improves their flowability and gives them a high apparent density in order to meet the stringent purity levels demanded by our customers and their application requirements.

Refractory metals will always be specialized and challenging to work with. H.C. Starck, with nearly 100 years of experience with refractory metals, is an ideal partner to solve customer problems. Whether it is a complex refractory alloy, powder or a highly complex finished part, H.C. Starck Fabricated Products can help.

In addition to the raw materials needed for 3D printing do H.C. Starck also provide 3D printed components?

Yes, we have been able to develop new materials, processes, and products using additive manufacturing tools, since 2014, when H.C. Starck’s FPR entered into an agreement with Rapid Prototype and Manufacturing (rp+m).

Also, with our rp+m collaboration, we now produce additively manufactured tungsten components for medical imaging and security screening much faster and more efficiently than before. With additive manufacturing, we can rapidly develop prototype products that extend to production level volumes in record time.

Due to their partnership with rp+m, H.C. Starck can also provide 3D printed components as well as the raw materials for additive manufacturing.

Where can readers find out more about your additive manufacturing services?

More information can be found on our website. Our brochures “H.C. Starck and rp+m to develop 3D Printed Products” and “H.C. Starck’s Refractory Metal Powders for Additive Manufacturing” can be downloaded using the below link.

Download the Brochure for More Information

If they like, readers can contact me directly at 216-692-3990 to discuss opportunities in Additive Manufacturing with refractory metals or send us an email at [email protected].

About Mike Stawovy

Mike Stawovy is a Senior R&D Manager in H.C. Starck’s Fabricated Products Division located in Euclid, Ohio.

Mike leads a team of researchers that are developing next generation refractory metal parts and materials for a wide range of medical, aerospace, defense and industrial applications. One area of focus has been the use of additive manufacturing as a tool for making products from H.C. Starck’s technology powders.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

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